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Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 5: Ciudad del Este

Hola everyone! 

I hope everyone is doing wonderfully in school or work or whatever everyone is doing!  I'm doing well! This week was actually pretty uneventful; nothing too exciting happened. But I did eat some realllly good food.. and some not so good food, but this week was definitely a good food week. 

So yeah, there wasn't anything super cool this week so I'll just run through what we do on an average day. So we get up at 6:30 every morning and pray and work out for 30 minutes. Then we shower and eat breakfast and then study at 8:00.  From 9:00 to 11:00 we have study as a companionship; we talk about what we are going to teach that day and we do role-plays and just study about how we can be more effective.Then at 11:00 I study Spanish for an hour, and at 12:00 we go get lunch. From 1:00 to 9:00 we go out and teach people and find people to teach. 

We have investigadores (investigators) whom we teach, but sometimes our appointments fall through so we visit their neighbors or just walk around and talk to people and try to set up more appointments. And most people have gates and fences around their yard, or patch of dirt, because there are so many stray animals that could easily walk right into their house. So instead of knocking on doors we stand outside their gate and clap until they come out. Kinda funny, but it makes sense here. And yeah we just teach people about our religion,  prayer, reading the scriptures and profets (prophets) and all that good stuff.  We just help them develop faith in Jesus Christ and our main goal is to baptize people. But that's not our total focus; we just help people develop their faith and talk to them about their problems or trials and help them recognize that God is really there and that he really can help. 

We are teaching a guy who has a terrible smoking problem, and we are just trying to help him overcome that. We are working with him a lot to help him overcome that addiction, so it's really cool just helping people and as they follow Jesus Christ and begin to live a more spiritual lifestyle it's cool to see how they change, how their attitude changes and the person they become. It's usually not super dramatic, but it's evident and awesome how the gospel can change people. 

And let's seeeee, on Tuesdays we have a meeting with our district and discuss how we can do better and share ideas about how to teach more effectively and stuff like that. On Mondays are called p-days, preparation days, where I get to write to family and friends, relax a little, do laundry, and best of all take naps. I'm a huge fan of naps. Also something cool about Paraguay...the weather is crazy. Like when I woke up this morning it was hot and muggy and not raining; now it's pouring and kind of cold. This past week I saw the coolest lightning storm ever. Just lightning that lit up the sky every half second. Super fun to watch. But yeah, that's my life in Paraguay in a nutshell. Sometimes easy, sometimes hard but always a good experience. So, adios! 
Elder Roberts

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 4: Ciudad del Este

Hola, Everyone!

     Hope you're all doing well. I feel like there's tons of stuff that happens to me every week, so I'll try to remember all the intersting, exciting stuff haha. But this week has been good. My Spanish is improving and I'm starting to adjust and get into the swing of mission life. 
     I ate some pig liver.... which wasn't a good experience. But I'm still alive so can't complain. And I've actually had some really good food. The meat is really good, and there's this pumpkin milk dessert stuff that's awesomeee!!  And these little cakes that you can buy in packages called alfahors (I think), but they are amazing and they´re only 1 mil guarani! Okay so in Paraguay they use guarani as their money, and one thousand or 1 mil guarani is 25 cents... so 4 thousand guarni is a dollar. It's weird but it works haha!

     I did go to this lady's house and asked her if I could use the bathroom and I really had to go. She told me it was really dirty, and I was like.. okay all the bathrooms in Paraguay are dirty, whatever. So after she took a notebook and ripped out 5 pieces of notebook paper for me to wipe with...... I went in and for real, when the Paraguayos say the bathroom is dirty, oh my!  Literally the most disgusting 6 by 6 square foot room I have ever stepped into in my life. I feel for the people. I decided not to use that bathroom though anyway! 

     It's actually been really cold this week. It's ridiculous how fast the weather changes. Tuesday it was like 85, and then Wednesday it was like 45. When it rains, it really cools off and it's been raining off and on all week. But I think I like the cold better than sweating to death. haha! 

     So we tried to visit one of our investigators yesterday, and there was actually a flood and a river was created, so we couldn't get to his house.... kinda funny. But Friday at midnight all the people in my zone got on a bus and we went to Encarnacion, Paraguay for a conference with our mission. So after a six hour bus ride we got off and listened to a guy speak and it was really cool. I learned a lot and got to see all my friends from the training center. So that was fun. And we ate pizza... that was probably the best part...aside from the spiritualness and stuff ya know. Anyway, there's a brief overview of the week haha, but really something I'm learning is that the Holy Ghost, spirit, is super super cool. We are promised by our apostoles (apostles) that if we listen sincerely to our investigators talk and not try to think about what we are going to say next in our head, which is super hard because I'm always scared I'm not going to know what to say, but if we sincerely listen then when we need to speak, everything will come and we will be able to say what we need to. Which is crazy because it would be one thing if that happened in English, but with Spanish it's super cool when I just listen and then speak and everything kind of just flows out. Super cool! But anyway, hope everyone is doing well! Miss all of you!
Elder Roberts

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 3: Ciudad del Este

Hola, Everyone!

     Hope all of you are doing well. This week has been good! There are ups and downs pretty much everyday, and I'm still getting used to waking up at 6:30 and walking around a lot.  But it's fun, and my Spanish is getting better, but I'm definitely still not comfortable. So I'm learning everyday and looking forward to the day that I can speak and understand really well. 

     But anyway, we had our first baptism on Friday which was super cool. A really good experience. And so far it's been a really humbling experience, and I'm really grateful for everything I have back home. Some of the people here live in tiny little shacks and live paycheck to paycheck just to be able to feed their families. And it has been really humbling because they´re some of the nicest people ever even with how little they have. But then there are the people who come up to you on the street or pull over and talk to you that are super drunk hahah! But it's funny. Theyll come up and start praying or asking us to preach to them while they're plastered, so we just kind of give them a little card with a picture of Jesus on it and go on our way. 

     There are these donuts that make my life; they're called bollos and they're amazingggg. I think the water here definietly got to me. The food is good and all the weird fruity drinks we get are good, but the explosive diarrhea that comes with it.... yeah sorry if that was TMI (You can delete that out if you want, Mom!). Haha! But it's all good. Lots of fun, some hard times and some good times, but all in all it's about serving the people, teaching the people and serving the Lord Jesus Christ. And no matter how hard it is sometimes, our purpose is to invite people to come unto Christ through faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end, and that will never change. And spreading that message will always be a privelege whether I'm drenched in sweat, freezing from the cold rain, covered in mud or having weird bowel movements. So hopefully everyone is doing well!


Elder Roberts

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 2: Ciudad del Este

Hola, Everyone! 

     Hope everyone is doing well getting adjusted to school and work and whatever else! I'm doing well down here! It`s definitely an adjustment for me to wake up at 6:30 everyday, study for four hours, eat different food and then walk and teach and speak Spanish for another nine hours. But it's going well! I`m sure I'll get used to it soon. My companion got super sick this week so I went with another elder in our district to teach in his area. So for those who don`t know, there are a bunch of missions in the world for our church, like more than 200, but I can't remember how many (405).  The missions are regions in different countries. So within each mission there is a president who directs the work of 150 to 300 missionaries. The missionaries are divided into companionships and there are about three, four or maybe five companionships in a district. Then two to four districts make up a zone. And then there are several zones within the mission depending on its size and the number of missionaries. So I went with our zone leader (super smart guy) for two days while my companion was sick; he's from Utah, so it was nice to be able to speak in English with someone.  That was fun. I got to eat some horse meat while I was in his area... not my fave. But I have eaten some realllly good food, so it balances out. And I'm starting to like the tree roots that they eat down here. They're called mandioka (mandioca, manioca, cassava, manioc, yuca, etc)...not sure about the spelling on that one.

     But anyway we've been doing a lot of walking, a lot of teaching and a lot of finding people to teach... and I guess that`s what I'll be doing for the next 22 months! But it's fun, and I'm excited to learn more Spanish and to get better at teaching in Spanish. It was cool yesterday and rained a tonnnnnn, and the roads here are either dirt, or crushed up rocks with dirt on top of them. So when it rains, the roads are suuuuupppper muddy. So yesterday we walked and walked and actually got lost, and it was really dark and I had like five pounds of mud stuck to my shoes. I was slipping and sliding and all that good stuff, but some guy helped us get back to where we needed to be.  So we went back to our apartment at around 7:30 to drop off some food a member of the church had given us, and we wanted to just sit down and plan out how we were going to find new people to teach...which is not what we`re supposed to do...we stay out till 9 or 9:30 every night teaching. We almost quit early, but we felt a little voice tell us we should go out even though it was dark, muddy and we were exhausted from walking about five miles through the mud.  So we went out and tried to talk to some people and got denied a few times, but we found this really nice guy who was super receptive and seemed excited about learning more and he gave us cake! So that was a plus, and it was a cool experience. So I'm doing well! Still struggling to understand people and I'm still struggling to speak, but that will come. It's all good! 

     So I'm in Paraguay and not Argentina because my mission area covers Argentina and Paraguay, but the temporary visa I have that allows me to be in Argentina actually doesn't let me proselytize (work as a missionary) in Argentina. So I can be there but  can't be a missionary there. So I'll be in Paraguay until I get my real visa, which is I don't know when. But I could still be in Paraguay even when that happens. So I'll just have to wait and see. 
     Also, I forgot my camera at our house... so pictures next week! Sorry!

But anyway, till next week!

Elder Roberts

                                    Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

Monday, September 2, 2013

First Week in Argentina/Paraguay

Hola, Everyone! 
     I´m currently in an Internet cafe typing on a strange, outdated computer and the lights are flickering a lot, and it´s kind of distracting but it´s a cool experience... It´s also pouring outside and walking in that is fun! But anyway, my last few days at the training center were good. I enjoyed the air conditioning and the American food! But the next morning at 6:00 a.m. I got my travel papers and took all my luggage and got on a bus that took me to the train station and then took a train to the airport where we were waiting until 12:30 when our flight to Dallas left; as soon as I sat down I pretty much fell asleep, even before the take off, which was dissapointing because I love the take-offs. But it's all good. We arrived in Dallas, went to Taco Bell and then right after got on a flight to Miami where I got to start my missionary experience by talking to the lady next to me about religion and about that kind of stuff and gave her pass a long card... which is a really good website. If you haven´t seen it you should! But anyway we got to Miami at about 10 p.m. (I think) and then got on our flight to Asuncion,Paraguay!  I ate dinner and then fell asleep and woke up about 6 hours later to look out the window and see miles of swampland and jungle which was pretty cool. 
     Then we got to Asuncion and got off and tried to go through customs, but they told us we needed to buy a $160 visa which we had no idea about and  I don't think the church (who organized all our travel stuff) had any idea about. So luckily the guy there spoke English (kind of), and he and I had to walk past security to find our representative that had come to pick us up. He didn't speak English either, and so after 2 hours or so of phone calls and such and working things out we ended up buying the visa and getting reimbursed later that day. So we got on this tiny bus, 13 of us, and packed all our luggage onto the back half and we all got on the front half which kind of made the bus lean a little so it was a bit scary driving. But we went to the mission home in Asucnion, and did fingerprint stuff and then went to the temple there which was cool! We waited around for a while to see how we were going to get down to Posadas Argentina where we needed to be. Thennnnn we went to the bus station and took a 5 hour bus ride down to Encarnacion, Paraguay.

     We unloaded all our luggage into a church meetinghouse there because crossing the border with all of our stuff would have been crazy, so then we all piled into taxis at about 12:00 and crossed the border and then went back across and crossed again.... I'm not really sure why because everything was in Spanish and I'm still not so great at Spanish. But anyway, I felt like I was in a movie or something because everything was really fast paced and crazy and passports and visas and I don't know!?!? It was just interesting. And there are no speed limit signs, and our taxis drivers were kind of like experienced NASCAR racers, just in old beat up taxis on super bumpy roads. But we finally got to where we needed to be, our mission home in Posadas, Argentina, ate something and went to sleep, got up the next morning, got to know our president, ate some more and then went and met our new companions. 

     We got to the bus station, and I met my companion, Elder Pizango, who´s a 5 foot 5, 22 year-old from Peru who doesn't speak English... well about 15 words and I taught him 10 of them. Soooooo it´s been quite an adjustment. But it´s fun; he´s really nice and he´s an excellent teacher which is great because I literally can barely understand what any one says here. It´s not really like the Spanish I learned at the MTC. They talk soooo fast, and in Ciudad de Este there´s a lot of people that speak Guarani which is a native Paraguayan language and a lot of them speak Spanish mixed with some Guarani... so I'm kind of learning two languages. Mostly Spanish though. But they also don´t really pronounce their S´s so it´s kinda like, how are you is: como etha or como eta instead of como esta. So it´s super hard to understand. 

     The first two days were kind of rough because I was kinda sick with a cold, super tired, could barely understand anything people were saying, including my companion...and we walk like 5 or 7 miles a day so it was  tough. But I fasted and prayed for a better attitude and for better understanding, and it really helped! It was cool. It´s still hard because I want to teach people and help people, but I can´t speak the language and I want to speak the language and I kind of can, but it´s slow and in an American accent and people can't really understand me and I can't understand them... so it´s kind of frustrating, but I just need to be patient. So that´s the last week in a nutshell.

     Today until 6:00 p.m. we get to rest and do whatever we need to do like laundry and stuff, but I do believe we are going to the center of Ciudad de Este which is the second largest black market city in the world behind Hong Kong. So that should be fun! It´s super different here. Everyone lives in shacks and there are tonnnnnss of stray dogs and cats and lots of chickens that are just walking around. And everyone that has a vehicle pretty much owns a motorcycle because cars are expensive and the the roads aren't too big and a lot of the side roads are just rocks with dirt over them, super bumpy, and not that fun to walk on, but its a cool experience! And I'm sure I will learn to like it. But the food is also pretty good... interesting but I'm not really sure what I'm eating usually. I know I ate some roots from a tree yesterday, and there is a lot of meat and rice. But the people here are super nice and humble and feed us a lot, so it´s cool.

     Anyway, I live above a little store in a little three room apartment, all tile. The bathroom smells interesting and the shower is just kind of in the corner. There´s no shower area; it's just there with a drain in the middle of the room. So that was pretty weird showering like that for the first time; and the toilet splashes up onto the floor sometimes... maybe that´s why it smells bad. I'll just say that I always wear shoes, always.

     But anyway, it´s a lot of fun! It sounds weird and like it kind of sucks and sometimes it is hard, but it´s totally worth it and and it´s a cool experience; and knowing that I´m helping (mostly my companion right now because i can't say anything) people come unto Christ and develop their faith by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Chirst with them and showing them how it can help them in their lives is pretty cool. And if it wasn´t true and it didn't help people, and if the gospel was just a make believe story, I wouldn't be here. But I know it´s true and that Jesus Chirst lives and is our Savior and through him our life can be fantastic! So, I hope everyone is doing well and getting adjusted to school and college and all that good stuff. Talk to you soon!
Nos vemos!

Elder Ben Roberts

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The new arrivals with President and Sister LaPierre

With President and Sister LaPierre at the Posadas, Argentina
Mission Home.